This blog is devoted to all those pieces of 20th century culture too often pooh-pooh'ed by the so called 'high brow' crowd. The stuff that conjoures words like 'vibrant', 'garish' and 'lurid'. Cheap paperbacks, b-movies, exploitation, fantasy, horror and hokey sci-fi - all have a place on this blog where the trash of yesterday is recognised as the classics of today.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Movie Review: Cleopatra Jones (1973)
Another Blaxploitation classic here. Overshadowed by the more memorable Coffy (released a month before), Cleopatra Jones is still a huge amount of fun. Both films center on the war against drugs, and whereas Pam Grier played a night nurse on a quest for vengeance, Tamara Dobson here plays a government agent who works closely with the police. The film opens with the spectacular bombing of a poppy field in Turkey on Jones's orders. This results in immensely cheesing off a drug queen called 'Mommy'.
I'm certain that this 'Mommy' character (played by Shelley Winters) inspired the 'Mom' villain in Futurama with her three idiotic sons whom she verbally and physically abuses throughout the movie. Only this Mommy has a rather lesbian penchant for the young ladies under her employ.
Ordering a police bust on an African-American anti-drug centre, Mommy rouses the ire of Cleopatra Jones who launches an all out crusade against Mommy's empire. Things are further complicated by the resignation of one of Mommy's crew, Doodlebug (Antonio Fargas) who wishes to set up his own little crime empire.
There's a lot going on in the film as the kung-fu kicking mama tries to clear her friends' names whilst attempting to frame the crooked cop who is on Mommy's payroll at the same time as evading the various hitmen the crime boss sets on her trail. Also, there's a girl who needs saving - the girlfriend of Doodlebug whose life is forfeit after her hubby is gunned down by Mommy's goons. But with all this happening, the film never gets convoluted and the action doesn't let up for a second. Cleo's car is a beautiful souped up Corvette with a small armoury stashed in the door panels a la James Bond. And the car chase midway through the film is spectacular.